May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon
Every four years, delegates from every United Methodist Annual Conference in the world gather for “holy conferencing” about the work of the denomination and our ministry initiatives for the ensuing four years.
General Conferences always deal with controversial and difficult issues because we are a part of a society that struggles with major issues. Regardless of how much good work is done in Portland, most of the media will report only upon the most divisive and argumentative issues discussed and possibly in a way that does reflect the true tone of those debates.
David Comperry, Senior Minister at Emmanuel UMC, “I would ask that you be in prayer for the delegates and for those who report on the happenings in Portland, that they would be guided by God’s vision for the church and our essential mission.”
The General Conference is
- An international body of nearly 1,000 delegates that meets every four years.
- The delegates are elected by annual conferences (at annual conference sessions) to attend General Conference.
- They represent all annual conferences around the world.
- Half of the delegates are laity (non-clergy members), half are clergy.
- Bishops attend the General Conference but cannot vote.
- Different bishops serve as presiding officers during the conference.
- Other bishops cannot speak unless permission is specifically granted by the delegates.
During General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, annual conferences, and other groups within the denomination. These actions result in a revision of the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s book of law, and Book of Resolutions, policies of the denomination on current social issues.
It is at General Conference where delegates wrestle with today’s issues in light of scriptural teachings and the church’s understanding of that teaching. Here is where the church’s official stands and church policies are made regarding such issues as human sexuality, abortion, war and peace, as well as determination of ministries and funding. (Source)
Brad Gabriel, Minister at Germantown UMC, has written an article, United Methodism: Making Decisions in 2016, with a more complete explanation of General Conference and how it relates to us here in the Memphis Conference. (link to article)